Follow Up after Ear Tube Surgery

If there are no complications, children can usually go back to their normal routine the day after ear tube surgery. Several weeks after ear tube insertion, your child's surgeon will conduct a follow-up exam. In many cases, a hearing evaluation also is recommended. Your child's pediatrician or ENT physician typically performs periodic examinations at regular intervals.

Your child may still get ear infections after the tubes have been inserted. However, they usually are less frequent and of shorter duration. If an infection does develop, fluid (clear, colored, or blood-tinged) will likely drain from the ears. Your child's pediatrician or ENT physician may prescribe drops to treat the infection.

Most children who get ear tubes have less frequent ear infections. Any infections that do occur usually heal faster than before the tubes were inserted.

Ear tubes usually stay in the ears for 3–18 months. The average time the tubes remain in place is 9 months. In most cases, the tubes fall out into the outer ear canal naturally and surgical removal is not needed. If the tubes remain in longer than 2–3 years, they may have to be surgically removed.

In children younger than 18 months, tubes may fall out too soon after insertion. About 25 percent of these children need to have ear tubes reinserted.

Publication Review By: Stanley J. Swierzewski, III, M.D.

Published: 27 Aug 2008

Last Modified: 14 Sep 2015